by: Michael Moorcock
by Ciara Grey
This issue I will be taking a look at Michael Moorcock's Dreamthief's Daughter. To be honest, I wasn't
able to force myself to read any farther than the first
one hundred pages.
There were several factors that caused me to put the book
down. I will begin with the fact the story is written in
first person. In my opinion, this is a distraction to the
reader in a story of this length. Mr. Moorcock also hid
the identity of a character, I assume, to build suspense.
I ceased to wonder after the second page. It is very
difficult to feel any empathy for a character who is
drawn as deliberately ambiguous.
The massive info-dump, thinly disguised as a German and
family history lesson, was not an attention grabbing
sequence. In fact, it had the opposite effect. The story
is set in post World War I Germany as Hitler rises to
power. When reading for entertainment, a history lesson
is not what I look for. Nor do I find political rhetoric/philosophizing
and yearning for a Utopian world all wrapped in circular
arguments that go nowhere entertaining. If an author
wants to put a philosophy across to their readers, they
should do it in a way that doesn't remove the reader so
far from the main character that they can't identify or
care about him/her.
The handling of dialogue was interesting. Conversations
began as dialogue in the normal fashion with quotations
and the appropriate identity tags. Suddenly, it would
lapse into narrative in Ulric's voice, then back to
dialogue. This was such an abrupt shift that it jarred me
out of the story. There were also too many American ideas
and names of places thrown around to keep the reader in
Germany of that period in time.
Mr. Moorcock spent four or five pages describing the main
character's situation and surroundings. While he did this,
he contradicted himself. Ulric ends up in a completely
dark cave and mentions that he is afraid to move because
he can't see. His rescuer joins him. She doesn't have a
light of any kind with her, yet Ulric can see what she
looks like and how she moves around.
The author goes on and on about the caverns. Early in
this description, Mr. Moorcock makes it a point to say
how there is no good way to convey the sight of the
phosphorescent lit caverns through words or with
photographs to another person. At the end of this
extended description, he makes a point to say that anyone
wishing to know exactly what the caves were like only had
to look at a picture of the Carlsbad caves of New Mexico
to see what he meant.
There were a couple of instances where the actions scenes
were very good. They just weren't enough to keep me
wanting to turn the pages.
Authors who break so many rules simply because they are
established and previously successful give other aspiring
writers the wrong impression about the publishing
industry. When material like this gets through the
editorial process with out being massively overhauled, it
gives the business of writing a bad reputation.
If an unestablished author, like you or I, were to try to
submit this kind of work to an agent or editor, we would
be laughed at and promptly rejected.
I usually enjoy a good "Alternative History"
story. Unfortunately, I was not able to enjoy this
unrealistically portrayed piece of narrative.
This was such a disappointment and, since I could not
force myself to read the whole thing, I can't give it a
(Editors Note: I will if you won't, Ciara.
- Disappointing, long-winded, confusing, bland and
* 1/2 - Lee Masterson)
* * * * = Un-put-downable, excellent reading!
* * * = Good value, interesting reading.
* * = Had potential, but could have been better.
* = Slow, difficult to read, could have been
* = Imminently